Stepping into the mind of Cheryl Chou should really come with a warning. It charms, enthrals, and seconds later, you’re captivated in her creative world, questioning whatever you thought you knew about the young actress and model.
An actress with not one but a few local series under her belt — Fried Rice Paradise, which recently won her praises from fans and critics alike, and an upcoming romantic comedy in the works — Cheryl knows a thing or two about holding her own and working the camera while she’s at it. Her tastes are eclectic, but these two things remain a constant: her impossibly infectious energy and honest enthusiasm. Naturally, NYLON had a lot of questions.
Below, the results of our incessant interrogation as Cheryl Chou clues us in on her acting challenges, hitting milestones, and her ultimate downtime indulgence.
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ON FRIED RICE PARADISE
“Aside from the fact it’s such an iconic piece — it has been around for so many years — working on such a prominent project that represents Singapore and captures the essence of it; I’m always very intrigued to learn more. Fried Rice Paradise is also a period piece, which is a genre in visual arts that I have always been interested in. It instantly drew me to this project. To top it off, the wardrobe, the makeup, the whole essence of how the set is styled, it was definitely interesting to witness how the 80s was interpreted and lived through. Obviously, I didn’t live through that era. [Laughs].
HER CHARACTER, GIRLY DANKER
“If there was a word to describe miss Girly Danker, I would always use the phrase #extra. Whether it be her character or dressing, she resonates that term so well. There is an air of extraness about her; she wears loud, bright colours and even bigger hair. I’m the complete polar opposite. In terms of her personality compared to mine, that is similar, for sure. We both have bubbly energy and a certain spunkiness, especially when surrounded by our good friends.
ASPIRING FILM GENRES
“I’ve already planned this out. Growing up, I watched many Cantonese dramas and it rubbed off on me, so much so that it was my childhood dream to be part of the police force. So, in terms of future film genres to explore, I would definitely say more action-based films. Yes, action, that’s it.
MAKEUP (on cheeks and lips):
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“I have an upcoming romantic comedy series that is starting production mid-September. It is my first rom-com and saying I’m excited is an understatement.”
ACTING VS MODELLING
“Similarities wise is that when you’re on set, sometimes you have to adopt a certain persona to best fit the desired theme. However, acting is more straightforward. Since there is a fixed character written for you, I find it easier to adapt. Because I have a character bio to base my foundation on; down to the mannerisms at times. Modelling… is just bringing out the inner you; your true self.”
THE CHALLENGES OF ADOPTING A CHARACTER’S PERSONA
“Hmmm… I don’t want to say that there are really tough challenges when it comes to this. Well, I read this book called ‘The Power of the Actor’, and it stated something specific I’ve always kept with me. It said that with every single character you undertake, even if at first glance they seem so unlike the real you, there will be a little part of their personality that does resemble your inner self. So, in that sense, my takeaway is that I need to comprehend that and connect with the character’s mindset.”
MAKEUP (on eyes AND NAILS):
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THE TOUGHEST PART ABOUT FILMING
“With Fried Rise Paradise, it was about a thriller murder mystery, a lot of plots were being filmed. For me, the most difficult thing on set was the WAITING. [Laughs]. We were shooting out in the Kampongs and there was nothing to do in-between scenes. The cast and I would play with set props, street animals — basically, anything to pass the time. It wasn’t so much of the acting but the waiting for my scenes. I’m a very active person so I can’t sit still…”
ON EXPERIMENTING WITH FITNESS CLASSES
“I have done a couple of jujitsu classes. About one-and-a-half years ago, I got the chance to learn cinematic martial arts. That means learning how to ‘fight’ on camera. After that experience, I wanted to explore more so I tried some Muay Thai classes. But I do like my conventional HIIT workouts and F45 classes. I swear I dare not even cross the road in fear I don’t make it in time because the classes are so painful; in a good way. I’m also very competitive especially when I’m working out with other people. I feel like in that moment, I can conquer the world after the class.”
SKINCARE TIPS TO SWEAR BY
“Super simple. To have good skin comes from within. You have to eat right and drink plenty of water. Also, never tug at your skin. Always resist. And definitely sunscreen, and for your neck! You just can’t conquer the Singapore sun.”
ON INDULGING IN WEIRD BEAUTY HACKS
“When I was younger I was definitely more experimental. My blackheads… I dipped my nose in saltwater! To be fair, I did see a difference. Now, I have learned and prefer to be more gentle on my skin.”
MAKEUP (on eyes):
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“It’s the simple things, really. I actually hit a small milestone on playing the guitar for one year. It was initially part of my job. For one of my roles last year, I had to play the guitar for a scene. Along the way, while practising, I found it to be something I truly enjoyed. Therapeutic, if you will. I continued playing the instrument during my downtime.”
THE JOYS OF HER DOWNTIME
“I like to entertain my friends. We call my home the ‘headquarters’ because that’s our hangout. I love to cook and prepare meals for my friends. Also, hiking. Whenever I’m in Hong Kong, I make the effort to hike; it’s just too hot in Singapore.”
ON HOW SHE IS DIFFERENT COMPARED TO 2018
“The main thing is knowing what I want: the direction of my career, what interests me and what I wish to pursue. As I grow older, I will eventually discover more about myself. For me, the change is really understanding better about what I want in my life. It’s very different from last year. I never have that fixed mindset, though, on what I have to achieve by a certain period of time. In life, you can’t put a stringent timeline on things that you want because let’s face it, things don’t always work out your way. We have to take it as it comes. Continuously strive to be better. Never stop exploring.”
Follow Cheryl Chou on Instagram here.